Presentation Title

California Drought: Environmental Considerations in Water Supply and Infrastructure

Presenter Information

Joshua S. EbinerFollow

Faculty Mentor

None. Written for Panetta Institute's Congressional Internship Program

Start Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:15 AM

Location

15-1814

Session

Social Science 4

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

In 2016, California experienced the tail-end of prolonged drought conditions which created severe water shortages throughout the state. Environmental laws and other regulatory compliances have further limited available water supplies. There are many stakeholders seeking legislative reforms including agricultural, environmental, industrial, recreational, and urban groups. The 114th Congress considered a variety of bills that aimed to address these issues by investing in and maintaining infrastructure, establishing disaster preparedness and response plans, and reforming environmental laws. This report explores the California drought, its effects on state water supplies, and current laws that affect water infrastructure projects and water distribution. The report also discusses the legislation proposed in the 114th Congress which aimed to provide relief to the stakeholders. Lastly, this report will discuss the importance of proactive bipartisanship in crafting legislation that addresses pressing water supply, regulation, and conservation issues. Although drought conditions in California have considerably improved over the last year, the underlying issues discussed in this report have not yet been fully resolved by legislators thus making California vulnerable to future drought conditions.

Summary of research results to be presented

This report presents data on three critical aspects regarding California drought conditions and legislation. First, it discusses the drought conditions that California experienced over the past ten years. Specifically, I use data that compares historical and annual precipitation, temperature, and reservoir water storage averages; water usage, sources, and distribution among stakeholders; and environmental consequences including declining indigenous fish species populations, groundwater depletion and land subsidence, and ecosystem health. This section uses data, charts and tables from the United State Geological, the US Department of the Interior, Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, and the United States Drought Monitor.

Second, this report discusses existing state and federal laws that govern water distribution, regulation, and infrastructure, as well as environmental protection and quality standards. This section primarily utilizes CRS reports that highlight key legislation and provide context to the development and scope of those laws. Third, this report examines the most relevant legislation introduced and considered by the 114th Congress. This section relies on CRS reports and the individual bills which were found through congress.gov.

This report finds that the 114th Congress did not take the appropriate action necessary to (1) address California’s drought conditions effectively, and (2) increase the state’s drought resilience when prolonged drought conditions inevitably occur in the future. In addition, although drought conditions improved over the past year, California remains susceptible to drought conditions. If legislators continue to neglect the pressing issues regarding water supply and environmental integrity, potential solutions will be limited, more expensive, and more difficult to implement.

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Nov 18th, 10:00 AM Nov 18th, 10:15 AM

California Drought: Environmental Considerations in Water Supply and Infrastructure

15-1814

In 2016, California experienced the tail-end of prolonged drought conditions which created severe water shortages throughout the state. Environmental laws and other regulatory compliances have further limited available water supplies. There are many stakeholders seeking legislative reforms including agricultural, environmental, industrial, recreational, and urban groups. The 114th Congress considered a variety of bills that aimed to address these issues by investing in and maintaining infrastructure, establishing disaster preparedness and response plans, and reforming environmental laws. This report explores the California drought, its effects on state water supplies, and current laws that affect water infrastructure projects and water distribution. The report also discusses the legislation proposed in the 114th Congress which aimed to provide relief to the stakeholders. Lastly, this report will discuss the importance of proactive bipartisanship in crafting legislation that addresses pressing water supply, regulation, and conservation issues. Although drought conditions in California have considerably improved over the last year, the underlying issues discussed in this report have not yet been fully resolved by legislators thus making California vulnerable to future drought conditions.